Andrews, Gerald Smedley

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Andrews, Gerald Smedley

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Gerald Smedley Andrews was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on December 12th 1903, son of Arthur Thornton Andrews and Emma Smedley (nee Harris). He attended Model and Mulvey Schools (1917) and Kelvin Technical High School (1918) in Winnipeg before moving to Calgary where he matriculated from Crescent Heights High School in 1920. As a young man he worked at various part-time and summer jobs, including messenger and paper-carrier (Winnipeg, 1916-1917), waiter (Field, B.C., 1919), ranch hand (Empress, Alberta, 1920) and horse-wrangler (Field, B.C., 1921). From April to September 1918 he served as a “Soldier of the Soil” on the farm of Frank Grain, in Purves, Manitoba. In 1920 Andrews moved to British Columbia, obtaining an Arts I degree from the University of British Columbia in 1921 and a Teacher's Diploma from the Vancouver Normal School in 1922. To fund future studies in forestry Andrews then taught in one-room schools at Big Bar Creek in the Cariboo (1922-1924) and in the Metis community of Kelly Lake in the Peace River District (1924-1926). In the summer of 1923 he travelled by pack-horse from Big Bar to Pemberton following the line of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, and the following summer made a second trip through Pine Pass in the Rockies. In 1926 he began studies at the Forestry School at the University of Toronto, where he was introduced to aerial survey photography and photogrammetry. During the summers he worked on a forest survey in Manitoba (1927), at a forestry station in Quebec (1928) and as a timber cruiser in British Columbia (1930). After graduating with a B.Sc. in Forestry (1930) Andrews was employed by the Forest Branch as Chief of Party for the surveys of the Flathead, Tranquille, Niskonlith and Shushwap Forests (1930 to 1932). When prospects for continued work with the Forest Branch dried up at the end of 1932, Andrews travelled to Europe, earning his passage as an “ordinary seaman” on the Fred Olsen line's Victoria to London via Panama route. He pursued post-graduate studies in air photo survey and intelligence at the Imperial Forestry Institute at Oxford, England (1933) and the Forst Akademie, Tharant and Technische Hochschule in Dresden, Germany (1934). In 1934 he returned to work with the British Columbia Forest Branch as an air photography specialist, helping to develop the province's air survey program. On 15th October 1938, Andrews married Jean Elizabeth Bergholdt. The couple made their home in Victoria, and had two daughters. In 1940 he enlisted in WW2, at first serving with the Royal Engineers and later with the Royal Canadian Engineers (1940-1946), and rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. His work in aerial surveying and air photo intelligence mapping the underwater and surface conditions for the D-Day invasion of Normandy was recognized with an MBE in 1944. He returned to British Columbia in 1945 and in 1946 was appointed Chief Engineer of the newly-established Air Surveys Division of the Surveys Branch, Dept. of Lands and Forests. He was instrumental in developing the province's aerial photography and photogrammetry program, purchasing cameras, equipment and aircraft and hiring experienced war veterans as pilots, navigators, engineers, film processors and mappers. In 1951 Andrews was appointed to the dual positions of Surveyor General of British Columbia and Director General of the Surveys and Mapping Branch, which he held until his retirement in 1968. During this period he also served as a member of the federal-provincial Fraser River Board (1952-1963), as Provincial Boundaries Commissioner for British Columbia (1952-1968) and, on a leave of absence from July to September 1958, as a consultant for the United Nations, under the Columbo Plan, on survey and air photo requirements for international development of the Mekong River. After retiring from the British Columbia government he worked as a consultant in surveys administration for the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys, Ottawa (1969-1971) and as a guest professor on a CESO project teaching air photo interpretation to graduate engineers at the Escola Politecnica in Campe Grande, Brazil (1972-1973). Andrews' professional commissions included Professional Engineer (B.C.) (1936), Registered Professional Forester (B.C.) (1947) and British Columbia Land Surveyor (1952). Andrews was active in numerous professional and amateur organizations, including the Canadian Institute of Surveying (president, 1952); the International Society for Photogrammetry (president, Commission IV, 1952-1956); the Corporation of Land Surveyors of the Province of British Columbia (honorary past president, 1968) and the British Columbia Historical Association (president 1972-1974, honorary president 1984-1986). He received numerous honours and awards including Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (London, 1942); Member of the British Empire (London, 1944); Doctor of Engineering honoris causa (University of Victoria, 1988); Order of British Columbia (1990) and Order of Canada (1991). Andrews' interests were wide-ranging and included world travel, history (particularly the history of British Columbia and Canada), geography, the biographies of surveyors and explorers, sketching, genealogy and languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Cree). He was a prolific writer and an avid photographer, authoring more than fifty publications and producing more than eight thousand 35 mm colour slides documenting all areas of British Columbia. Gerald Smedley Andrews died in Victoria, British Columbia, on December 5th 2005.


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Created CWebber 2011-11-15
Revised Khughes 2016-10-18




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